About us

START Now is a New Zealand based human innovation company, that’s purpose is to help people and businesses create more purposeful and sustainable work. Based in Auckland we are an agile business which is proud to work with courageous individuals seeking a new start in their life & career, as well as businesses looking to bring new value to their employees.

Melissa Jenner founder of START Now is the first NZ based professional accredited in the Stanford Design your Life programme. Design your Life is an initiative from Stanford University to help individuals design multiple possible futures for themselves, and embrace design tools such as ideation, storytelling and prototyping to find their pathway. At START Now, we integrate these tools into our programme to support people to find their future by leveraging world-leading methodologies adapted for local needs.

Melissa Jenner, Founder

START NOW was founded by New Zealander Melissa Jenner in 2015, built out of a deep desire to help others re-build their careers after her own experience.

“I found myself suddenly wanting and needing a new direction, but with no idea how to begin. Everywhere I looked, everyone and everything was telling me “just follow your purpose” or “do what you love”. Fine, but how? What I realised was starting a new direction needs a good process. It’s risky, and I needed a method I could rely on”.

Melissa left her role as Director of Better by Design for NZ Trade & Enterprise to create START NOW. Trained in Design Thinking at Stanford d-School, Melissa pioneered the application of Design Thinking to the personal innovation challenge many people face – re-imagining and building a career they love.

Before she found Design Thinking, Melissa was a Marketer, a Strategist and a General Manager. With over 20 years experience, she has worked in senior management roles for a range of big corporates (including Microsoft and Barclays) some of the world’s more creative businesses (including Saatchi & Saatchi), and in some of the biggest cities in the world (including London & New York).

In addition to running START Now, Melissa is a coach on the Icehouse Business programme, an associate facilitator with Blacksmith, and affiliated with Advisory Works.

Marieke Zieleman - Human Innovation strategist & facilitator

Marieke has over 20 years experience working across the globe (London, New York, Singapore, Japan) in strategy, business transformation and leading organisations through transformational process and cultural change. She worked primarily in Investment Banking (UBS, Banque Paribas) when based overseas before returning to New Zealand to work for Fonterra and Air New Zealand. More recently she has been working with SMEs to build their businesses commercially and culturally.

Marieke has:

  • A passion for New Zealand to be a leader in using design thinking for human innovation
  • Strong belief that you can create sustainable businesses which contribute to the wider community in which they operate, whilst giving your employees the ability to evolve their careers
  • Experience as a Business Advisor and Executive Coach, who is passionate about the potential of people to do more in their careers and with their businesses, incorporating their passions and skills to create something they love to get up in the morning for
  • Expert strategist and facilitator, who also works with SMEs to grow their businesses in a more sustainable humanistic fashion

Marieke left corporate life behind in 2017 because she wanted more from her career and felt that the traditional way in which people worked no longer matched her personal purpose. She is an advocate for design thinking having used it in her corporate roles and upon meeting Melissa Jenner and hearing about START Now’s approach to re-designing careers, she made the decision to partner with her on developing the Human Innovation service

"In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take."Anonymous